Rethinking Packaging: Why We Design for the Circular Economy

packaging for the circular economy

The Earth’s resources are not limitless. Unfortunately, our collective appetite for consumption and convenience is depleting resources faster than the Earth can renew them.

We need to move away from the current linear economy where materials are extracted, turned into products, then ultimately ‘thrown away’, to one where materials are treated as precious resources to be continually used within a circular system.

Foodservice packaging represents a huge opportunity to move towards a circular economy model and close the loop on waste by producing packaging from plants that can be composted and returned to Earth as soil food which can be used to grow more plants. Compost also helps improve soil quality and retain water which in turn makes the land more drought resilient.

Which is why our packaging is designed for a waste-free circular economy.

This article will help you understand more about the circular economy and why it matters for brands operating in the foodservice industry:

 

  • What is a circular economy?
  • Circular vs linear economy
  • Benefits of a circular economy
  • What makes BioPak packaging circular?
  • How foodservice brands can introduce circularity?
  • What Happens If My Packaging Ends up in the Landfill?
 
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What is the circular economy?

Often referred to simply as “circularity”, the circular economy reimagines the current linear take, make, dispose model and redefines economic growth focusing on positive society-wide benefits.


Leading circularity think-tank The Ellen MacArthur Foundation defines the circular economy as follows:

“In a circular economy, economic activity builds and rebuilds overall system health. It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources and designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital. It is based on three principles: design out waste and pollution; keep products and materials in use; and regenerate natural systems.” (source)

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Circular vs linear economy

In a linear economy, we use raw materials to process into a product that is thrown away after use. Resources are therefore used once, a few times at best, and then lost. In a circular economy, materials are reused and there is no waste. For example, waste glass is used to make new glass and organic waste, including compostable food service packaging, is turned into nutrient-rich compost. A circular economy feeds back into its own development and closes the loop.

Benefits of a circular economy

A circular economy allows to reduce extractive activities to obtain new resources, as these can be reused and extracted from waste material. It presents a significant opportunity to reduce CO2 emissions, land and water use, as a direct effect of better design, reuse activities and regenerative practices (in the agriculture or fishing industries for instance).

Reusing resources and materials also brings important financial benefits, with large savings available for businesses, which can drive lower prices for consumers. It is also estimated that redesign and reuse activities can lead to job creations and re-localised business initiatives. Regenerative practices are also an opportunity to consolidate communities, by getting them involved in small scale local activities such as permaculture communal gardens, repair shops and fablabs.

What makes BioPak packaging circular?

BioPak packaging is made from responsibly-sourced, rapidly-renewable plant-based resources. After use, it can be disposed of in appropriate the organics recycling stream along with any remaining food scraps where it will biodegrade through the composting process and return nutrients to the soil and help grow more plants.

How can foodservice brands adopt circularity?

While there are many ways to move towards a circular economy, choosing plant-based compostable packaging and introducing organics recycling are two simple ways foodservice brands can introduce circular practices.

What Happens If My Packaging Ends up in the Landfill?

Regardless of how our products are disposed of, they are designed to be a more sustainable option than plastic. This is because they are made from rapidly renewable, plant-based materials rather than finite fossil fuels and can be easily turned into a new resource (compost) at the end of their useful life.

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Our entire range is carbon neutral, which means we calculate and offset (neutralise) the carbon created for all our products, including the carbon emissions they would create if they end up in a landfill. Disposal accounts for an average of 52% of the carbon footprint of our products. So if they are composted they become carbon positive!

 

See how to dispose of your BioPak Packaging on our disposal page.